10-Rep Learning ~ Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology & Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague


STEAMing Ahead with How-Focused Questions

STEAMing Ahead with How-Focused Questions or The How-Focused Question Approach to Effective STEAM education.

Guest post with Amelia Wildman, MEd and current doctoral student at the College of William and Mary.

The responses to our recent presentation at the CCE Symposium in Finland was so kind. Many in attendance requested additional information on specific implementation of How-focused questioning. Also requested were effective question stems for How-Focused Questions.

Amelia writes, “At its core, creativity involves thinking about something in a meaningful, original way. Strategies that develop students’ abilities to think creatively can also serve the purpose of helping them build skills in analyzing and evaluating what they read.”

How-Focused Strategy: A specific how-focused strategy for strengthening students’ creativity is metaphorical thinking. Metaphorical thinking is about connecting different ideas in order to develop a new perspective or understanding: the qualities and contexts of one idea are paired with those of another in order to make connections. Incorporating metaphorical thinking activities can promote students’ fluent thinking – generating many ideas; flexible thinking – considering different perspectives; and original thinking – developing insights that are unique and complex. Specific strategies for incorporating metaphorical thinking activities into the classroom will be discussed, with a specific focus on metaphorical thinking and developing skills in writing.”

Research-based instructional component (IC): How-focused questions components are integral to students’ content acquisition. How-focused questions are part of questioning for:

1. Clarification

2. Probing Assumptions

3. Probing Rationales

4. Questioning Viewpoints

5. Probing Consequences

6. Questions on the Question


How-focused questions are a component of an effective Socratic questioning approach. Here are a few Question stems featuring a Socratic assertion. From these seven stems a complete questioning curriculum in any content area is possible.

  1. How do you know this?
  2. How does this relate to our discussion?
  3. How did you choose your assumption?
  4. How can you verify or disprove your assumption/statement/premise?
  5. How might your assumption be refuted?
  6. How does _____  fit with what our experience tells us?
  7. How does ___ affect ____?

Watch this video that addresses deterrents to poor questioning.



Berger, W. (2013). What Kills Questioning? (Book trailer for A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION by Warren Berger). Youtube. Available online at this link: https://youtu.be/dey1Rm5gUxw

Bélanger, Annie and Rao, Preethi, “The Art of Questioning: Using Powerful Questions and Appreciative Inquiry Conversations to Understand Values and Needs” (2019). Presentations. 79.


PLEASE NOTE: This post original published February 28, 2019. Updated May 30, 2019 with additional citation information.

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